Wednesday August 19th, 2009

A Staggering Achievement

At the Times (London), David Grylls reviews the second edition of John Sutherland’s Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction. He points out several flaws in the book, but (rightfully, it sounds like) praises the project’s ambition:

. . . the book represents a staggering achievement that is unlikely ever to be equalled. That a single scholar, working un-assisted, should undertake to synopsize 554 (now 560) novels and offer biographical accounts of 878 (now 900) novelists, as well as compiling entries on forty-seven magazines and periodicals, twenty-six major illustrators and thirty-eight (now forty-one) miscellaneous items (“Sandism”, “the Yellowback”, “The Nautical Novel”), is a feat that beggars imagination, especially since much of the work was completed before the availability of the internet and searchable digitized texts.